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Study: Hearing aids from an early age benefits speech development

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Getting fitted with a hearing aid early in life may be the key to developing better language skills in deaf children, according to a recent study in Australia.

According to the study, the benefit of early amplification was especially true for children with severe hearing loss.

The research looked at 350 children with permanent childhood hearing loss who had received a hearing aid or cochlear implant by age 3. At age 5 to 6, children were tested by a speech pathologist on their language and communication skills. The results were compared with those of 120 children with normal hearing.

Findings

The study shows that children who started amplification at three months old had significantly better language skills than those who started at 24 months, and children who received cochlear implants at 6 months developed better language than those implanted at 24 months.

“…children who started amplification at three months old had significantly better language skills than those who started at 24 months”

Researchers also found early intervention benefited language development for those with hearing loss. Children with 70-decibel hearing level benefited even more than those with 50-decibel hearing level.

Read more: 3 Tips for Learning a Language with Hearing Loss

“Early intervention improves language outcomes, thereby lending support to streamlining clinical pathways to ensure early amplification and cochlear implantation after diagnosis.”

What next?

The research calls for timely interventions for children with permanent childhood hearing loss and more research.

If you think your child has undiagnosed hearing loss, be sure to visit an audiologist or healthcare professional. 

Angie Aspinall
Angie Aspinall
Phonak hEARo, Angie is a freelance journalist, copywriter, website designer and social media consultant. (www.aspinallink.co.uk) She lives in Scotland with her husband Richard, and their Westie, Tilly. Angie was diagnosed with Otosclerosis in her right ear at the age of 30. In 2011, she suffered sudden profound hearing loss in her left ear. She now uses a Phonak CROS II with a Phonak Audéo V hearing aid. You can follow Angie's international discussion group #HearingLossHour on Twitter @hearinglosshour.